Scientists report that taking mixed vitamin E appears to be more beneficial than taking “regular” vitamin E — the type that contains only one compound, alpha-tocopherol. Mixed vitamin E contains four tocopherol compounds (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and is closer to how vitamin E is found in nature.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found that supplementing with alpha-tocopherol alone could reduce levels of other beneficial tocopherols. In a trial of 184 adult nonsmokers, researchers discovered that the participants experienced significant decreases in gamma- and delta-tocopherols over the trial period of two months. They concluded that, in light of the potential antioxidant benefits of gamma- and delta-tocopherols, the effectiveness of alpha-tocopherol supplementation alone should be further studied.
Researchers at the University of Uppsala in Sweden conducted a similar study to measure whether mixed tocopherols or alpha-tocopherol worked better to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In this study, 46 healthy subjects were divided into three groups and either given alpha-tocopherol, mixed tocopherols or a placebo for eight weeks. The participants underwent tests measuring cardiovascular health before and after the trial. The results of these tests showed that supplementing with mixed tocopherols, but not alpha-tocopherol, helped improve overall cardiovascular function and inhibit platelet aggregation.
Sources: J Nutr. 2003 Oct;133(10):3137-40; Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;77(3):700-6